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IASbaba’s Current Affairs Focus (CAF) Mains 2017: Day 10

  • IASbaba
  • October 16, 2017
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SYNOPSIS : IASbaba’s Current Affairs Focus (CAF) Mains 2017: Day 10

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1. Pakistan lies at the heart of China’s geostrategic ambitions. Do you agree? Substantiate. Also analyse the threats for India emanating from the China-Pak axis.

Introduction:

The friendship between China and Pakistan is reaching higher levels year after year. Now Pakistan lies at the heart of China’s geo strategic ambitions with every other major projects of China having major role for Pakistan or having significance on Pakistan.

Body:

  • CPEC: Major project between China and Pakistan passing through Indian Territory.
  • Maritime Silk Route: Passing through waters of Pakistan.
  • OROB: Road link passing through major towns of Pakistan.
  • Djibouti base: African base of China with eye on offering help to Pakistan in times of need.
  • Gwadar port: Built by Chinese and stationing of its troops in name of protecting the port.
  • Asian Development bank: It involves many other countries but Pakistan has major role in it.

Threats to India:

  • String of pearl theory: Encircling India which can be helpful in launch of two fronts attack.
  • Instability: In Kashmir valley especially through supply of money power, arms and ammunition, training of militants.
  • Infrastructure: Lack of infra on Indian side and high infra on other side giving advantage during attack.
  • Incursions: Frequent incursions even on western border in near future with help of Chinese technology and strategy.
  • Violations: Increased cease-fire violations along borders with help from Chinese technology like targeting weapons, Bunker technology etc.

Conclusion:

Pakistan has described China has there all weather friend and frequent visit by high level officials between countries proves it. Also Chinese have taken up several projects in Pakistan like building roads, bridges, townships etc. and frequent sighting of Chinese troops on their soil tells many things about their relationship.


2. Central Asia holds immense strategic and economic significance for India. Discuss. In this light, examine the importance of International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) of which India is a founding member.

Introduction:

India recently became full time member of SCO which gives it more access to Central Asian region which holds immense significance for India in terms of strategic and economic significance. The region is also politically stable and India has long standing relationship which the region since days of independence.

Body:

  1. Strategic:
  • Base: India has only foreign base in this region in Tajikistan.
  • Uranium rich: The region i.e. Kazakhstan is rich in uranium deposit which is needed by India.
  • Energy security: The region is also rich in Natural gas reserves. Ex: TAPI Pipeline.
  • China: Helps to contain china and keep a look on Chinese activities.
  1. Economic:
  • Market: It provides huge market for Indian goods and services.
  • European access: It provides road access to European markets.
  • Tourism: Tourists from the region helps in Foreign exchange reserves.
  • Medical studies: Many Indian students visit CAR for cheap medicine studies.

INSTC is a multi-modal network of Ship, Rail and road route for moving freight between India to Central Asian region and European countries.

Importance of International North South corridor:

  • Afghanistan: It provides access to afghan market which is blocked by Pakistan.
  • CAR: Market access to central Asian region which has huge scope for growth.
  • Infrastructure sector: It helps Indian companies to invest in infra projects in the region.
  • Service sector: Huge opportunity for service sector growth.
  • Cheaper European access: Provides access to European markets which is cheaper than Suez route and faster.
  • China: Helps to parallel Chinese OROB and sting of pearl theory.

Conclusion:

INSTC is an excellent initiative in many ways not only to India but many others countries involved in this third world project. It also helps in both strategic and economic ways. Countries involved are India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe. The North end is Moscow and south end at Mumbai.


3. The structural change in the global energy market has contributed to the changing paradigm of West Asian strategic thinking. Discuss. In this light, examine the approach that India has adopted to cultivate ties with this region of the world.

SYNOPSIS:

LOOK EAST POLICY OF GCC:

  • Structural change in the global energy market with West Asian oil and gas increasingly heading to South and East Asian markets rather than to the Trans-Atlantic markets. as a consequence of this change in flows and partly owing to the fiscal stress faced by the trans-Atlantic economies, West Asia is looking to India and other Asian powers to step in and offer security guarantees to the region.

INDIA AND WEST ASIA:

  • Any form of tumult in the West Asian region invariably has an impact on India and South Asia as a whole. For strategic reasons, India seeks peace and political stability and security in the West Asian region.
  • So far, India has been pragmatic in its policies towards the West Asian region excellent examples of which are balancing its relationships with Palestine and Israel; and Saudi Arabia and Iran, among others
  • Many GCC states have welcomed defence cooperation agreements with India.
  • In the wake of the Arab Spring and the mess in Egypt and Iraq, the Gulf States find India and China to be more reliable interlocutors than many western states.
  • Under pressure from radical and extremist political forces within West Asia, most states in the region have come to value the Indian principle of seeking and securing regional stability as an over-riding principle of regional security.
  • This strategic engagement is the product of a mutual “look-at-each-other” policy. Over the last year, the government has put forward a nuanced view of the region openly declaring friendship with Israel, seeking better relations with Iran and, at the same time, cementing a thriving relationship with the GCC states.
  • India has a ‘non-prescriptive’ and ‘multi-pronged’ approach towards the West Asian countries. India continues to remain cautious in its approach towards the region, steering clear of any regional alliances, but at the same time maintaining cordial relations with them. India is committed to protecting the interest of the large number of Indian expatriates in the Gulf and Middle East.
  • India is a robust practitioner of democratic pluralism and religious moderation, it does not believe in intrusive prescriptive diktats. India maintains that it is up to the people of the region to decide the pace and the means to achieve those goals, keeping in mind their traditions and history.
  •  on the current situation in West Asia India believes that ‘security through dialogue is the basic framework for peace and security in the region’.  As a plural society, India cannot be comfortable with sectarianism and does not support a military solution in Syria.

Thus India’s policy is both pragmatic and plural and at its heart the best interest of its citizens in the region and well within the contours of its non-alignment policy.


4. What is Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC)? Discuss its key elements. can it be seen as India and Japan’s counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative? Critically examine.

SYNOPSIS:

The idea of AAGC had emerged in the Joint Declaration issued by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in November 2016.

The AAGC is a roadmap for opportunities and aspirations in Asia and Africa. It was launched with an aim to prioritize development projects in health and pharmaceuticals, agriculture and agro-processing, disaster management and skill enhancement. It will focus on people centric sustainable growth strategy details of which would be evolved through a process of detailed consultation across Asia and Africa.

Four main components of AAGC are:

  1. Development and cooperation projects
  2. Quality infrastructure and institutional connectivity
  3. Capacity and skill enhancement
  4. People to people partnerships

Some of the expected outcomes are as follows:

  1. Effective mobilization of financial resources
  2. Alignment with socio-economic development and development strategies of partner countries and regions;
  3. Application of high-quality standards in terms of compliance with international standards established to mitigate environmental and social impact
  4. Providing quality infrastructure and taking into account various aspects of economic efficiency and durability, inclusiveness, safety and disaster-resilience, sustainability as well as convenience and amenities
  5. Contribution to the local society and economy.

IS IT A COUNTER TO CHINA’S OBOR??

China’s OBOR and AAGC are qualitatively different. AAGC aims to be an efficient and sustainable mechanism for linking economies, industries and institutions, ideas and people in Africa and Asia in an inclusive manner. There is vast and untapped potential in both Asia and Africa which needs to be explored for shared growth, development, peace, prosperity and stability of these regions.

China’s OBOR is concentrated on Eurasian mainland for trade by creating trade infrastructure because China has huge reserves built by trade surplus over the years which have to be balanced globally. AAGC is Indian Ocean oriented initiative basically for the African people and their priorities. India is willing to assist Africa as per its priorities and requirements whereas China is more self-centered approach.

If Africa looks towards US or Europe for these things, it is very expensive. So, India and Japan are the best in terms of compatibility of interest for Africa. China is rapidly expanding itself in Africa therefore; India and Japan do not have luxury of time. They both should immediately initiate a few joint pilot projects involving the companies of India, Japan and a few African countries in identified areas like health care, agriculture and blue economy


5. What are the factors behind the deadlock in Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) with the EU? Examine.

Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) between India and EU started in 2007. India and the EU first started negotiations in 2007 on an FTA to cover trade in goods, services, intellectual property and foreign investment. However, 13 rounds of negotiations have not yielded a treaty to regulate trade and investment between the two sides. For India, it is more important as there is no major bilateral or regional trade agreement of which it is a part.

A lot of reasons are responsible for the slow progress towards achieving this deal. Some of them are:

1) India’s decision to not allow European multibrand retail firms to set up shop here due to political compulsions, although this is allowed under the FDI policy

2) Failure to reach an agreement over issues pertaining to lowering of tariff on Indian automobiles and wines & spirits

3) India unhappy with the offer of increasing the EU’s immigration quota

4) India’s demand for relaxation in visa regime not met

5) EU has not given proper assurance to India on its demand to recognize the country as a ‘data secure’ nation

6) EU’s insistence on issues related to other development objectives such as environment protection and climate change to be included in FTA

However, things have started moving in a positive direction. India seems to have got an upper hand in terms of narrowing their other demand on liberalizing legal services. The government has also assured the EU it is willing to reduce tariffs on automobiles and wines and spirits. In the bargain, India has asked the EU to grant it a ‘data secure’ nation status. This will pave the way in boosting the country’s IT and IT-enabled services sectors.

 

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